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When the past is present…

 

Only Blonde White Waitresses Are Allowed To Have Hair Highlights At Hooters?

By CBS Baltimore, baltimore.cbslocal.com

The popular restaurant chain Hooters is accused of racial discrimination by a former employee in Baltimore. And it all centers around her hair. (. . .)Hooters

Farryn Johnson’s blonde highlights are now at the center of a complaint filed with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. “My other co-workers, they all had different colors in their hair, like red and blonde highlights. I didn’t think it would be an issue,” she said. (. . .)

Johnson, 25, was fired from her job as a waitress at Baltimore’s Harborplace Hooters in August after she was told by managers her hair color violated employee image standards.imgres-7

“They gave me write-ups and they told me I need to take the color out of my hair. And they said I couldn’t have blonde in my hair because I’m black. They specifically said, ‘Black women don’t have blonde in their hair, so you need to take it out,’” said Johnson. (. . .)

“What’s wrong is that both federal and state law clearly say employers can’t impose two separate and distinct rules governing employee standards–one for African-American employees and one for everyone else. And that’s clearly what Hooters did here,” said attorney Weber, Brown Goldstein Levy. (. . .)

Delegate Washington agrees. Employers need to be able to define personal appearance and grooming standards, but she’s already drafting legislation that would prevent employers from requiring or prohibiting specific hairstyles.

She says Farryn Johnson is just one of many examples. (. . .)Hooters-1

Hooters of America declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The case is now in the hands of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, whose investigation could take months.

Washington expects her bill to be pre-filed for the next legislative session in Annapolis.

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New Statistics on African-American’s That Identify As LGBT

By HuffingtonPost.com

A new report is shedding light on the growing number of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in the black community.imgres-4 According to a recent study, there are more than one million African-American LGBT adults in the U.S. Of those individuals, 84,000 are in same-sex households with about 34 percent of couples raising children. These numbers come about a year after a Gallup report that found African-Americans make up the largest share of the LGBT community. (…)

men-holding-handsThe report finds overall higher unemployment rates and lower proportions with a college degree among LGBT African-Americans, when compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. However, these disadvantages are not present among African-Americans in same-sex couples, with 25 percent having completed a college degree, compared to 22 percent of African-Americans in heterosexual couples. In addition, 71 percent of African-Americans in same-sex couples are employed compared to 68 percent of their heterosexual counterparts.

The study also highlighted a prevalence of interracial relationships, a trend that is on the rise nationally for heterosexual couples. According to its findings, 47 percent of same sex couples with one African-American partner feature another partner of another race. (…)images-2

Nationally, how African-American same-sex couples fare compared to heterosexual couples varied significantly based on gender and whether or not the couple was raising children. For example, female African-American same-sex couples earn over $20,000 less than male African-American same-sex couples. Further, African-American same-sex couples raising children, report household median incomes $15,000 lower than comparable African-American different-sex couples.

Another significant finding was that many African-American LGBT individuals live in regions that have a high population of black residents but have yet to pass laws that protect the LGBT community, which co-author Angeliki Kastanis said could have a huge effect.

“LGBT African-American parents and their children evidence significant economic disadvantage and many live in states without LGBT anti-discrimination laws or marriage equality,” Kastanis said. “Establishing these important legal protections could really help these families.”

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Black History Document Found in Chicago Home Before Demolition

By Susanne M. Schafer, BigStory.Ap.Org

The first black man to become a University of South Carolina professor in 1873 was hailed Tuesday as a “man of courage,” who taught during the school’s fleeting era of post-Civil War desegregation and ended up inspiring the generations of scholars who followed.

Richard Theodore Greener, a promising intellectual who fought for racial equality, was invited to teach and live on the university’s Columbia campus during the tumultuous period known as Reconstruction.imgres-3

“We are all extremely proud of this path-breaker,” said Bobby Donaldson, a history and African-American studies professor.

“The hiring of an African-American professor and the admission of black students — less than a decade after the end of slavery — were part of an extraordinary and daring experiment,” Donaldson said.imgres-2

He spoke at a ceremony held to unveil Greener’s 1876 law diploma and law license. Those documents were recently acquired by the university and placed on display at the South Carolina Library, which is dedicated to the state’s history.

The diploma and license survived after being plucked from a Chicago home in 2009 just before it was to be demolished. (…)

It is a stroke of luck for the school to obtain Greener’s documents. Many originals were destroyed to eradicate the memory of blacks attending the school.

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Insight on Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence

By Ashely Woods, HuffingtonPost.com

By the time 43-year-old Kwame Kilpatrick is released from prison, he’ll likely be eligible for Social Security.imgres

The former Detroit mayor was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds after being convicted of 24 counts of racketeering, bribery, extortion, mail fraud and other charges related to his corrupt activities while in office. Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were accused of running a criminal enterprise out of Detroit’s City Hall, which prosecutors claimed resulted in at least $9.6 million in illegal profits to Ferguson’s company. Without a successful appeal, which experts told USA Today is unlikely, Kilpatrick, who has been imprisoned since his conviction in March, will spend decades behind bars.

Edmunds told the courtroom Thursday that federal sentencing guidelines recommended Kilpatrick receive a prison sentence ranging from 30 years to life behind bars, according to the Detroit Free Press. Lengthy sentences are a relatively new trend in the history of corrupt politicians, thanks to a 2004 amendment to sentencing guidelines that allowed for longer prison stints to be handed down to public officials caught bribing, extorting and committing fraud. The amendment text notes, “in general, public corruption offenses previously did not receive punishment commensurate with the gravity of the offense.” (…)

“They could either lower the drug and gun sentences, or raise the white collar sentences,” he remembered. “And it’s always easier for Congress to show how tough it is by raising sentences.”imgres-1

Since then, Henning has noticed an increase in the length of sentences for officials convicted of public corruption — with Kilpatrick’s being one of the most severe.

“He received the kind of sentence that’s normally given for homicides or very serious drug violations,” said Henning, who had expected Kilpatrick’s sentence to be around 20 years. The former mayor’s defense attorneys had asked Edmunds to sentence him to 15 years or less in prison. “Twenty-eight years is higher than I thought it would be — and maybe even higher than what’s appropriate — but not extreme.” (…)

“He probably cost himself a bunch of time by not accepting any responsibility,” Burdick said, adding that Kilpatrick could have received a sentence of 20 years or less.

“I think [Edmunds] gave him a break at 28 years after what he said,” he added. “I think he burned himself.” (…)

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’12 Years a Slave’ Director and Actress to Be Honored at Hollywood Film Awards

Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o to be recognized on Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton

By Scott Feinberg, the Hollywood Reporter

12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o will receive the Hollywood Breakout Director Award and New Hollywood Award, respectively, at the 17th annual Hollywood Film Awards, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.

Director Steve McQueen

Director Steve McQueen

The event, held on Oct. 21 at the Beverly Hilton, is the first awards show of the 2013 season. Previous recipients of the Hollywood Breakout Director Award include Ben Affleck,Paul HaggisJohn Patrick ShanleyLee Daniels,Michel Hazanavicius andDustin Hoffman. And previous recipients of the New Hollywood Award include Robert Pattinson,Gabourey SidibeJennifer LawrenceFelicity Jones and Quvenzhane Wallis.

FILM REVIEW: ’12 Years a Slave’

McQueen, 43, is a British filmmaker who has heretofore earned considerable critical acclaim for his first two feature films, Hunger (2008), a drama about an IRA hunger striker which won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and Shame (2011), a drama about a sex addict which won several prizes at the Venice Film Festival. (…)

Nyong’o, 30, is a Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised and Yale School of Drama-educated actress. (…S)he won the role of Patsey — a slave who receives particularly unkind attention from her master and his wife – in 12 Years a Slave shortly after her 2012 graduation from Yale.

12 Years a Slave is a drama based on the remarkable true story of a free black man from the north who was deceived and sold into slavery in the south in mid-19th century America. In addition to Nyong’o and Fassbender, its cast includes Chiwetel EjioforSarah Paulson,Benedict CumberbatchMichael Kenneth WilliamsPaul DanoPaul Giamatti,Alfre WoodardGarret DillahuntAdepero Oduye and Beasts of the Southern Wildstars Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry and Brad Pitt.

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Who Doesn’t Want a Barbie That Looks Like Them?

By Amanda Scherker, HuffingtonPost.com

If you’ve ever tried to find a black doll at your local toy store, you may have noticed they usually come with tamed, straightened hairstyles. But one California mom, fed-up with that status quo, started a business making dolls with a fabulously diverse spectrum of natural hairdos — and her products are proving to be pretty popular. imgres

Karen Byrd, founder of Natural Girls United, customizes dolls to give them natural hairstyles not typically seen on those sold in stores. As a child, Byrd remembers wondering why she didn’t resemble her straight-haired, white dolls.url

“I had dolls that were gorgeous, but they didn’t look like me. When I looked in the mirror, I would be confused — like, am I beautiful?” Byrd told The Huffington Post.

While toy shopping for two of her daughters, now 14 and 12, Byrd was stunned to discover the same lack of diversity in contemporary toy stores. It was time to do something about it; she started her own business in 2011. (…)

Many would argue these natural hair dolls provide a much-needed dose of diversity to an often homogenous doll selection — an issue recently described in a Collectors Weekly article.

“I’m emphatic about a black child having a doll that reflects who she is. When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black,” Debbie Behan Garrett, the author of Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, told Collector’s Weekly. (…)r-BROWN-SISTER-LOCS-large570

And while mainstream toy companies are producing more black dolls, the representation of natural hairstyles remains limited. Indeed, toy company Mattel’s Barbie brand generated controversy in 2009 when it launched a line of black Barbie dolls with straight hair. Even today, Barbie’s black dolls still typically sport sleek, straight hair or stylized ‘dos, such as those seen on Ballgown Barbie or Air Force Barbie.r-BIG-AFRO-DOLL-large570

Given this limited mainstream selection, smaller toy companies have found their niche marketing more diverse alternatives. The Pattycake Doll Company, for example, seeks to provide dolls generally not found at other stores, including black baby dolls with natural hairstyles, Hispanic dolls, Asian dolls, biracial dolls, and dolls for boys. (…)

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Black History: October 7th 1954

By HuffingtonPost.com

(October 7th) in 1954, the New York Metropolitan Opera hired Marian Anderson making her the first black singer that the famed opera house signed on. Anderson would make her debut performance with the company three months later, on January 7, 1955.

Before the big hire, Anderson made a name for herself performing at venues like Carnegie Hall. However, she did encounter barriers and discrimination because of her race. In 1939, the manager of Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall did not allow her to perform. When the public got word that this was due to Anderson’s race, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out against it. The Roosevelt’s later invited Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday of that year, in front of a crowd of 75,000.

Marian Anderson (was), the first African American soloist ever to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House, sings “Ave Maria” on the stage of Carnegie Hall, in what was billed as her farewell performance, April 18, 1965.

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Do Racial Issues Still Push Some Over the Edge?

Miriam Carey

Miriam Carey

By Richard Prince, theRoot.com

The suspect slain after a chase from the White House to the U.S. Capitol Thursday wasn’t identified by race, unlike the Washington Navy Yard killer who left 12 others dead less than three weeks earlier. Miriam Carey wasn’t at large, as was Aaron Alexis of Fort Worth, Texas, whose race was broadcast when reporters had little else to go on by way of description.

The public also saw photos of Christopher Jordan Dorner, “a linebacker-sized ex-cop with a multitude of firearms, military training and a seemingly bottomless grudge born when the LAPD fired him in 2009,” in the words of the Los Angeles Times, describing him during a manhunt in February. He was believed to have killed three police officers.

All three had mental health issues, and all were African American. Is there a connection?

Amy Alexander, who co-authored the 2000 book “Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans” with Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, thinks so.

Today a woman allegedly attempted to ram her car into gates near the White House, ” Alexander wrote Thursday on the Medium website. “She reportedly attempted to flee, and was shot by local law enforcement officials near the U.S. Capitol Building. Two weeks ago, a gunman who was apparently suffering from mental illness that led him to believe that unseen forces were out to get him shot and killed 12 workers at the Navy Yard in the District of Columbia before officers shot him dead.

Aaron Alexis, who the FBI believe to be responsible for the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard in the Southeast area of Washington, DC is seen in this handout photo

Aaron Alexis

“The gunman in the Navy Yard tragedy was black, and early reports of today’s incident indicate that the driver of the car that seemed to be trying to [breach] security at the White House may have been black. Were their respective mental states affected by race in America? Scoff if you like. I consider this a legitimate area of inquiry.

“The race of these two individuals who caused these violent outbursts is both important and possibly not so important — what matters to me is that violence appeared to be their court of last resort. The motivations of their respective choices are worth examining, once we learn more about their lives.

“What’s obvious right now, though, is this: We’re trapped in an endless loop of denial when it comes to race and violence in America.

“We are living a weird mash-up of the Dickensian cliche — ‘the best of times, the worst of times’ — and ‘Groundhog Day.’ America sits atop the list of developed nations in terms of GDP, military might, and at least several cultural and intellectual sectors.

“We have twice elected a Black American man as President. We do not live — as was the case in my childhood — under the constant fear of a nuclear attack. We haven’t had a major race-related urban disturbance since 1992.

“And yet, our Original Sin — racism — continues to haunt America, including blacks and whites. Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with one of the world’s most prominent psychiatrists, Alvin F. Poussaint, of the Harvard Medical School. We wrote a nonfiction book examining people of color in America and mental health. Dr. Poussaint joins other black clinical mental health experts in exploring a theory that gets little coverage in the press: Black people in America are experiencing something known as Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS). The syndrome affects whites, too.

Friends of Heaven Sutton, one of 2012's youngest victim to Chicago's gun violence, at a celebration for what would've been her eighth birthday on Sept. 26, 2012. Photo by Ashlee Rezin.

Friends of Heaven Sutton, one of 2012′s youngest victim to Chicago’s gun violence, at a celebration for what would’ve been her eighth birthday on Sept. 26, 2012. Photo by Ashlee Rezin.

“As Dr. P. lays it out, the symptoms are highly detrimental to Blacks, foremost, though they are debilitating for whites too if in less acute forms and at fewer points that are immediately life-shortening. For Blacks, the symptoms and expressions of PTSS include fatalistic outlook, self-destructive behavior, and hopelessness; risky-behaviors including putting oneself in danger of violence, behaving violently toward others; over-eating, smoking, drinking to excess, and drug abuse. For whites, holding racist beliefs and bigoted [ideas] is a form of mental illness that can lead to symptomatic physical health risks such as heart disease. . . .”

After the Alexis rampage, some writers called for more attention to mental illness among African American men. “Misdiagnosing mental illness among black men has long been an acute problem — with consequences that extend beyond the Navy Yard killings to the daily gun violence throughout urban America,” Courtland Milloy wrote in the Washington Post. Among Alexis’ issues, a friend said, “He felt a lot of discrimination and racism with white people especially,” NBC News reported.

Christopher Dorner

Christopher Dorner

The Los Angeles Times wrote about a manifesto that Dorner issued: “Dorner felt isolated growing up as one of the few African American children in the neighborhoods where he lived and was the victim of racism, according to the manifesto. ‘My first recollection of racism was in the first grade,’ Dorner allegedly wrote, recalling a fellow student at Norwalk Christian School who called him a racial slur. Dorner said he responded ‘fast and hard,’ punching and kicking the student.”

Alexander’s thoughts are worthy of follow-up by other journalists. “Main point is that there’s a direct through line in our US history that links violence, racism,” she told Journal-isms by email. “Add mental health and you’ve a perfect storm of disaster!”

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Never-Ending Story: ‘Conversation About Race’ Has Not Brought Cultural Consensus

By A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Chain InfinityThe “conversation about race” that public figures periodically claim to desire, the one that is always either about to happen or is being prevented from happening, has been going on, at full volume, at least since the day in 1619 when the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown. It has proceeded through every known form of discourse — passionate speeches, awkward silences, angry rants, sheepish whispers, jokes, insults, stories and songs — and just as often through double-talk, indirection and not-so-secret codes.

What are we really talking about, though? The habit of referring to it as “race” reflects a tendency toward euphemism and abstraction. Race is a biologically dubious concept and a notoriously slippery social reality, a matter of group identity and personal feelings, mutual misunderstandings and the dialectic of giving and taking offense. If that is what we are talking about, then we are not talking about the historical facts that continue to weigh heavily on present circumstances, which is to say about slavery, segregation and white supremacy.

Lee Daniel's The Butler, like The Help, tells the story of a black man in service to whites–but unlike The Help, the story is told from the servant's point of view. The butler uses his own powers to help himself, marking an important change in films about the African American experience.

Lee Daniel’s The Butler, like The Help, tells the story of a black man in service to whites–but unlike The Help, the story is told from the servant’s point of view. The butler uses his own powers to help himself, marking an important change in films about the African American experience.

But of course we are still talking about all that, with what seems like renewed concentration and vigor. Nor, in a year that is the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address and the semicentennial of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, are we simply looking back at bygone tragedies from the standpoint of a tranquil present. The two big racially themed movies of the year, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” are notable for the urgency and intensity with which they unpack stories of the past, as if delivering their news of brutal bondage and stubborn discrimination for the first time.

And one of the strange effects of this country’s anxious, confused, hopeful and delusional relationship to its history of racism is that such narratives often do feel like news, or like efforts to overcome willful amnesia.(…)

Such stories, of course, do not stay told. The moral, economic and human realities of slavery — to keep the narrative there for a moment — have a way of getting buried and swept aside. For a long time this was because, at the movies as in the political and scholarly mainstream, slavery was something of a dead letter, an inconvenient detail in a narrative of national triumph, a sin that had been expiated in the blood of Northern and Southern whites.(…)

Roots (1977), based on the book by Alex Haley, was a much-viewed dramatic tv series. It traced Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.

Roots (1977), based on the book by Alex Haley, was a much-viewed dramatic tv series. It traced Haley’s family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to his descendants’ liberation.

The white audience, moved by duty, curiosity and sincere empathy, could now move on. The horrors of the past, especially when encountered on television, cast a soothing and forgiving light on the present, where some of us could be comforted, absolved, affirmed in our virtue through the simple fact of watching.

But after such forgiveness, what knowledge? Post-”Roots,” a Hollywood consensus took shape that replaced the old magnolia-scented mythology with a new one, almost as focused on the moral condition of white people, but with a different political inflection. The existence of racism is acknowledged, and its poisonous effects are noted. But it is also localized, in time and geography, in such a way as to avoid implicating the present-day white audience. The racists are clearly marked as villains — uncouth, ugly, ignorant in ways that no one watching would identify with — and they are opposed by a coalition of brave whites and noble, stoical blacks. At the end, the coach and his players, the preacher and his flock, the maid and her enlightened employer shame the bigots and vindicate the audience.

There are variations on this theme, of course, but it is remarkably durable. It links, for example, “The Help,” Tate Taylor’s mild and decorous look at master-servant relations in Mississippi in the early 1960s (based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel), with “Django Unchained,”Quentin Tarantino’s violent and profane (if no less fantastical) examination of the same subject in the same state a little more than a century before.

The movie title 'The Help' refers to what Southern whites called their black maids, but the movie exemplifies the soothing (to whites) tradition of viewing blacks as needing the help of kindly whites to achieve their goals.

The movie title ‘The Help’ refers to what Southern whites called their black maids, but the movie exemplifies the soothing (to whites) tradition of viewing blacks as needing the help of kindly whites to achieve their goals.

In both cases, a white character (Emma Stone’s writer; Christoph Waltz’s itinerant dentist) helps a black protégé acquire the ability to humiliate the oppressors. The weapon might be a book, a pie or a hail of gunfire, but the effect is the same. Justice is served and everyone cheers.(…)

Some of us, perhaps including the white directors, are cheering for ourselves. Look how bad it used to be. Thank goodness — our own goodness — that it isn’t anymore. And of course it is never just the way it used to be. The abolition of slavery and the dismantling of Jim Crow really happened, against considerable odds and thanks to blacks and whites who took risks that later generations can only regard with awe and patriotic pride. The challenge is how to complete a particular story and leave the audience with the understanding that the narrative is not finished, that the past, to modify everyone’s favorite Faulkner quote, is not quite past.(…)

(T)he troubling reality that now — even now, we might say, with a black president and a culture more accepting of its own diversity than ever before — the full citizenship, which is to say the full acknowledged humanity, of African-Americans remains in question. The only way to answer that question is to keep talking, and to listen harder.

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KKK Rally At Gettysburg Canceled Because Of Government Shutdown

By , Huffington PostKKK rally

A Ku Klux Klan rally planned for Saturday, Oct. 5 has been canceled because of the government shutdown.

On Sept. 26, officials at Gettysburg National Military Park granted a special-use permit for a rally to a Maryland-based KKK group. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, the event was canceled when park officials rescinded all permits for special events because of the shutdown, which began 12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.”

But not everyone took the closing of national parks and monuments sitting down. A group of World War II veterans visiting the National Mall on Tuesday stormed the WWII Memorial – which is now technically closed to the public — to pay their respects.

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